Thursday, March 23

COULD SOMEONE TELL ME PLEASE WHEN THE COOKING GENE KICKS IN?

We've been talking, the last few days at work, about cooking. Not the most scintillating of subjects perhaps, but our conversation has revolved around the fact that most of us seem entirely incapable of bringing our own homemade lunches to work, and on just why this is the case.
How is it that we’ve become such a lazy, shameful, fast-food/take-out generation?
If it weren’t for the rather limited fast food options immediately available to us within a 2 block radius - Goodies, Pita tou Papou, and Everest – we’d be lost. And those few of us who do manage to bring homemade lunches are regarded with bewilderment and something approaching awe.

Don't get me wrong: I love food, and I love to cook - in theory at least. That is to say, when I have a special occasion for which to labour, and the luxury of having the entire day to do it. And I've been told (OK, no false modesty here, I know) that I'm a damn good cook. …Perhaps I should have more dinner parties.
But, truth be told, on a regular basis I am something of a sporadic chef. I'll manage to whip up at least 3 decent meals a week for about a month, then go almost two months more without so much as lifting a ladle or lid. The sad fact of the matter is that the buzz I get from crafting a creative, original, delectable meal fades when it is required of me daily. After 8 hours of work, no less.

My boyfriend is not much help either when it comes to my dilemma. No, he’s not a typical Greek man; he's a whiz with the iron and the laundry machine, and does his fair share of dishwashing and tidying up. But food and cooking, alas, just don't interest him very much. He is strictly a meat and potatoes (well, bread since this is Greece) kind of guy. Anything resembling a fruit, vegetable, bean or lentil is immediately suspect and unappetizing. Not to mention anything which is just a little bit spicy - even ordinary pepper is too much for him! (I have trouble understanding why he isn't suffering from a serious vitamin deficiency and languishing, sallow and weak, on the couch all day, but anyway.)
Needless to say, this doesn't provide me with much incentive to cook anything nice or different. When I do, he just won't eat it. Which is fine by him (he prefers souvlaki from the place downstairs over just about anything anyway) but not much fun for me. After all, what is a cook without an audience?

The other major roadblock to my cooking consistently is what must come before the cooking can begin, namely grocery shopping. It has always been something that I've disliked intensely. Moreover, I have never gotten the knack of buying really useful food. What I mean is that, though I may buy an entire shopping cart (worth 100 euros) full of food, once we get home and put it all away I am suddenly confronted by the fact that there is nothing to eat! I'm not sure how this is possible, or what food-stealing elves may be hiding in my cupboards and refrigerator, but still it remains the case. Perhaps it's that I’ve bought nothing quick to eat. But then, if I decide to cook something “real” and substantial, it seems I don't have any of the necessary ingredients for anything!

I know the solution to all my woes, of course. All I have to do is sit down once a week, search the site epicurious.com for 5 inspiring recipes or so, and base my week's shopping list on that.
Yeah right! I'm afraid that that level of organisation and forethought is quite beyond me.

What I want to know, though, is when the grown up gene will kick in? After all, I don't imagine that our parents were born knowing how to meal-plan, shop and cook. They must have learned at some stage though because, by the time they had us, they had managed to get it together and plunk down three square meals a day.
But I just don't see that ever happening to me, and the years are ticking by ever more quickly. Do you have to have kids for this mysterious cooking gene to start working? Or does it automatically activate once you've reached a certain age? If so, what age exactly would that be?

Please let me know, cause I don’t wanna be a fast-food girl no more!

6 comments:

Flubberwinkle said...

Kids.
No doubt about it.
Kids are the only motive for the "cooking gene" to kick in.
You can't keep them on formula and jarred baby food for too long, some relative will rat you out.
:-D

The SeaWitch said...

I agree with flubber. I never really took cooking seriously until I had my son. Before that, homecooked food only came from Mom's house or if my boyfriend decided to cook. Once in a blue moon, I'd have the inspiration to cook something decent.

I think the reason why I never really started cooking even when I moved out my parents' home is because it was always more important to bring home good grades than to learn how to roast a chicken to perfection. And once you start working, you're just too tired to come home and spend an hour or more making a meal.

Katerina said...

Hi Kassandra,

I have two friends to thank for my cooking abilities - a greek guy and a cypriot gal. Back in the early 90s a bunch of us would have crazy greek weekend parties (in the US) and cook almost the entire weekend. The number one thing they taught me? How to clean up as I go!! Otherwise you are overwhelmed with a filthy kitchen when you're done, regardless of how yummy your food turns out! Before them? My specialty if a boyfriend was coming over was "doctored" Ragu spaghetti sauce or if I was feeling Julia Child-y I would saute' some chicken breasts, make some rice, and dump in a jar of Uncle Ben's sauce :)

What works for me lately is cooking on Sunday - a big pot of soup or stew, and a pot of beans (φακές, φασολάδα, etc) - that way I have lunch/dinner for most of the week, easy to put in a tupper for work, and then make a salad too for dinner. I personally like foodnetwork.com - you can type in any number of ingredients and it will give you tens if not hundreds of recipes, depending on how many items you searched on.

Also? You are going to need an incentive - why don't you get one of those excellent cow-κουμπαράδες and put in 1/2 the money you'd have spent on take out in there every night? You will have an excellent vacation fund by August!!

Love your blog! take care,
Katerina

kassandra said...

Kat: thanks for the advice, and the recipe site! I do usually resort to the big Sunday cook-up - only problem being that by Tuesday I am entirely and completely sick of whatever it is I made... I like the cow-thingy idea though (piggy bank?)

Katerina said...

Yes! They're like piggy banks only they're cows and I am in love with them. There's a great toy store on Beikou in Koukaki that has them and I know they have them in a store across from the Acropolis metro stop. If you're going to be in the neighborhood and want to meet for coffee and cow-piggy-bank shopping I'd be delighted :)

Katerina

Anonymous said...

"he prefers souvlaki from the place downstairs over just about anything anyway" HA HA HA and HA again !!! As you may understand I`m the "he" in the previous sentence. I hate interfering with Ranya`s blog, but this time i have to help the truth to come to the surface... Well my dear friends not only i hate having souvlaki often, but pizzas,crepes and humburgers too. Ask all the owners of delivery restaurants of our area, they`ll tell you (stories about all the delivery boys salute me using my nickname is a LIE !!!).